The Valley Gems: Week Zero
The Football season kicks off in full effect Friday night with a ton of games with high stakes. A couple of teams with high aspirations test their mettle at home against Southern Section opponents. On the west side of the SFV, an intriguing matchup between the defending Valley Mission champions and a team looking to make a statement takes place at Canoga Park. A grudge match takes place in North Hills and the VST Game of the Week features a defending city champion looking for respect hosting a non-league rival looking to get off to a hot start in 2023. Here are our picks for the must-see matchups around the Valley for the first Friday night of the season:
Campbell Hall Vikings @ North Hollywood Huskies – North Hollywood High School, 7 pm
The North Hollywood Huskies have designs on winning the East Valley League and more this season, and they get a tough test to open the season at home. This game will feature two dynamic running backs in Campbell Hall’s Kamar Mothudi and North Hollywood’s Jaylin Burt. Mothudi led the Vikings with 18 rushing touchdowns in 2022 while averaging 112 yards on the ground per game. Burt was the offensive catalyst for North Hollywood in 2022 finding the endzone 16 times. The defense that finds a way to stifle the opponent's running game probably walks away with the victory here.
Arleta Mustangs @ Canoga Park Hunters – Canoga Park High School, 7 pm
The Mustangs take a trip to the West Valley to battle the defending Valley Mission champions in week zero. It is hard to make heads or tails of what the Hunters will be this season with Lucius Mills taking over the reins from David Perez as the Head football coach. The program took a hit to its depth and experience, graduating a significant number of players who were a part of the league-winning season last year. It takes time to remake a roster when you graduate so many players. Nevertheless, it is always tough going into Canoga Park to get a win on a Friday night. Expect a dogfight when these two squads battle at Rudy Lugo Stadium.
Westlake Warriors @ Taft Toreadors – Taft High School, 7 pm
The new era begins officially for Taft football under new head coach Fred Emerson when the Toreadors face off against the Warriors. The offense should be on full display in this contest with Taft unveiling their Air Raid attack. The atmosphere should be electric for this game as this contest marks the first true home game for Taft since the fall of 2021. The return of the student section should make life difficult for Westlake. We will see if Taft can ride the wave of excitement and make a statement in the West Valley right out of the gate.
Chatsworth Chancellors @ Monroe Vikings – Monroe High School, 7 pm
What promises to be one of the more smashmouth contests you will find anywhere in the San Fernando Valley takes place in North Hills when the defending East Valley champs host the Chatsworth Chancellors. This is a revenge game for Chatsworth, as they haven't forgotten Monroe coming to their house and handing them a loss in Week zero last year. Monroe should expect to get a heavy dose of Chatsworth’s bruising running back Isiah Rameau in this contest, but the Vikings might be one of the few teams in the San Fernando Valley built to slow him down.
VST Game of the Week
#12 Cleveland Cavaliers @ Kennedy Cougars – Kennedy High School, 7 pm
The reigning Division II city champions probably won't be happy with being ranked outside of the top-25 in the preseason polls, but they will have a great opportunity to show their mettle in Week Zero. The Cavaliers are looking to prove that they are still a team that is dangerous enough to win a city title of their own, and a win on the road at Kennedy could be just the statement they want to make. Both Cleveland’s head coach Peter Gunny and Kennedy’s Troy Cassidy know they will have to figure out a way to slow down their respective offensive attacks, and the key to this game may come down to which team can get that key stop that creates an opportunity to create distance in the scoreboard. You would be hard-pressed to find a better game in the Valley on Friday night.